AbstractGlobally, marine sediments are a vast repository of organic matter which is degraded through various microbial pathways, including polymer hydrolysis and monomer fermentation. The sources, abundances, and quality (i.e. labile or recalcitrant) of the organic matter and the composition of the microbial assemblages vary between sediments. Here, we examine new and previously published sediment metagenomes from the Baltic Sea and the nearby Kattegat to determine connections between geochemistry and the community potential to degrade organic carbon. Diverse organic matter hydrolysis encoding genes were present in sediments between 0.25 to 67 meters below seafloor, and were in higher relative abundances in those sediments that contained more organic matter. New analysis of previously published metatranscriptomes demonstrated that many of these genes were transcribed in two organic-rich Holocene sediments. Some of the variation in deduced pathways in the metagenomes correlated to carbon content and depositional conditions. Fermentation-related genes were found in all samples, and encoded for multiple fermentation strategies. Notably, genes conferring alcohol metabolism were amongst the most abundant of these genes, indicating this is an important but underappreciated aspect of sediment carbon cycling. This study is a step towards a more complete understanding of microbial food webs and the impacts of depositional facies on present sedimentary microbial communities.
AbstractA C-DEBI research exchange was awarded for travel to the International Geobiology Summer Course hosted by California Institute of Technology (in conjuction with the Agouron Institute, Simons Foundation and USC Wrigley Institute). This course offered many unique opportunities including extensive field sampling, lab work, and data analyses. Field sampling occurred at Mono Lake, Little Hot Creek, the Monterey Formation, and Sulfur Mountain. Laboratory procedures included DNA extraction and PCR, CARD-FISH, microeukaryote culturing, nanoSIMS, beamline, SEM, biomarker, isotopes, and petrography analyses. We found that there was potential for microbial communities to be active at low levels in Mono Lake sediments. We also concluded that there were detrital input of albite and orthoclase into Mono sediments that correlated with El Niño and La Niña events. These data were analyzed and presented for the participants, directors, and course administrators on the final day. This experience not only provided me with technical training, but also allowed me to build an extensive network of colleagues in the field of geobiology. This course was relevant to C-DEBI Research Themes 2 (Activities, Communities, and Ecosystems) and 3 (Metabolism, Survival, and Adaptation) because we connected microbial community structure and potential function to geochemical measurements.
AbstractCool hydrothermal systems (CHSs) are prevalent across the seafloor and discharge fluid volumes that rival oceanic input from rivers, yet the microbial ecology of these systems are poorly constrained. The Dorado Outcrop on the ridge flank of the Cocos Plate in the northeastern tropical Pacific Ocean is the first confirmed CHS, discharging minimally altered <15∘C fluid from the shallow lithosphere through diffuse venting and seepage. In this paper, we characterize the resident sediment microbial communities influenced by cool hydrothermal advection, which is evident from nitrate and oxygen concentrations. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that Thaumarchaea, Proteobacteria, and Planctomycetes were the most abundant phyla in all sediments across the system regardless of influence from seepage. Members of the Thaumarchaeota (Marine Group I), Alphaproteobacteria (Rhodospirillales), Nitrospirae, Nitrospina, Acidobacteria, and Gemmatimonadetes were enriched in the sediments influenced by CHS advection. Of the various geochemical parameters investigated, nitrate concentrations correlated best with microbial community structure, indicating structuring based on seepage of nitrate-rich fluids. A comparison of microbial communities from hydrothermal sediments, seafloor basalts, and local seawater at Dorado Outcrop showed differences that highlight the distinct niche space in CHS. Sediment microbial communities from Dorado Outcrop differ from those at previously characterized, warmer CHS sediment, but are similar to deep-sea sediment habitats with surficial ferromanganese nodules, such as the Clarion Clipperton Zone. We conclude that cool hydrothermal venting at seafloor outcrops can alter the local sedimentary oxidation–reduction pathways, which in turn influences the microbial communities within the fluid discharge affected sediment.
AbstractMicrobial ecology within oligotrophic marine sediment is poorly understood, yet is critical for understanding geochemical cycles. Here, 16S rRNA sequences from RNA and DNA inform the structure of active and total microbial communities in oligotrophic sediment on the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Sequences identified as Bacillariophyta chloroplast were detected within DNA, but undetectable within RNA, suggesting preservation in 5.6-million-year-old sediment. Statistical analysis revealed that RNA-based microbial populations correlated significantly with nitrogen concentrations, whereas DNA-based populations did not correspond to measured geochemical analytes. Bioenergetic calculations determined which metabolisms could yield energy in situ, and found that denitrification, nitrification, and nitrogen fixation were all favorable. A metagenome was produced from one sample, and included genes mediating nitrogen redox processes. Nitrogen respiration by active bacteria is an important metabolic strategy in North Pond sediments, and could be widespread in the oligotrophic sedimentary biosphere.
AbstractMicrobial life in the deep subsurface biosphere is taxonomically and metabolically diverse, but it is vigorously debated whether the resident organisms are thriving (metabolizing, maintaining cellular integrity, and expressing division genes) or just surviving. As part of Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 347: Baltic Sea Paleoenvironment, we extracted and sequenced RNA from organic carbon-rich, nutrient-replete, and permanently anoxic sediment. In stark contrast to the oligotrophic subsurface biosphere, Baltic Sea Basin samples provided a unique opportunity to understand the balance between metabolism and other cellular processes. Targeted sequencing of 16S rRNA transcripts showed Atribacteria (an uncultured phylum) and Chloroflexi to be among the dominant and the active members of the community. Metatranscriptomic analysis identified methane cycling, sulfur cycling, and halogenated compound utilization as active in situ respiratory metabolisms. Genes for cellular maintenance, cellular division, motility, and antimicrobial production were also transcribed. This indicates that microbial life in deep subsurface Baltic Sea Basin sediments was not only alive, but thriving.
|Project Title||Potential phosphorus uptake mechanisms of the deep sedimentary biosphere|
|Acronym||Deep sea sediments|
|Created||November 7, 2016|
|Modified||November 7, 2016|
The goal of this project is to explore potential microbial P uptake mechanisms in marine sediments beneath the North Atlantic Gyre and their effects on the relative distribution of organic P compounds as a function of burial depth and changing redox conditions. We use a combination of metagenomic analyses and solution 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P NMR) to investigate (1) the presence of microbial functional genes pertaining to P uptake and metabolism and (2) the possible P substrates for the deep biosphere in these oligotrophic sediments.
NSF C-DEBI Award #156246 to Dr. Adina Paytan
NSF C-DEBI Award #157598 to Dr. Delphine Defforey
|Adina Paytan||University of California-Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz)||Principal Investigator||✓|
|Benjamin J. Tully||University of Southern California (USC)||Co-Principal Investigator|
|Jason B. Sylvan||Texas A&M University (TAMU)||Co-Principal Investigator|
|Delphine Defforey||University of California-Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz)||Co-Principal Investigator|
|Barbara J. Cade-Menun||Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AGR GC)||Co-Principal Investigator|
|Brandi Kiel Reese||Texas A&M, Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC)||Co-Principal Investigator|
|Laura A. Zinke||University of Southern California (USC)||Co-Principal Investigator|
AbstractDuring the past decade, the IODP (International Ocean Discovery Program) has fostered a significant increase in deep biosphere investigations in the marine sedimentary and crustal environments, and scientists are well-poised to continue this momentum into the next phase of the IODP. The goals of this workshop were to evaluate recent findings in a global context, synthesize available biogeochemical data to foster thermodynamic and metabolic activity modeling and measurements, identify regional targets for future targeted sampling and dedicated expeditions, foster collaborations, and highlight the accomplishments of deep biosphere research within IODP. Twenty-four scientists from around the world participated in this one-day workshop sponsored by IODP-MI and held in Florence, Italy, immediately prior to the Goldschmidt 2013 conference. A major topic of discussion at the workshop was the continued need for standard biological sampling and measurements across IODP platforms. Workshop participants renew the call to IODP operators to implement recommended protocols.
AbstractThe vast marine deep biosphere consists of microbial habitats within sediment, pore waters, upper basaltic crust and the fluids that circulate throughout it. A wide range of temperature, pressure, pH, and electron donor and acceptor conditions exists—all of which can combine to affect carbon and nutrient cycling and result in gradients on spatial scales ranging from millimeters to kilometers. Diverse and mostly uncharacterized microorganisms live in these habitats, and potentially play a role in mediating global scale biogeochemical processes. Quantifying the rates at which microbial activity in the subsurface occurs is a challenging endeavor, yet developing an understanding of these rates is essential to determine the impact of subsurface life on Earth's global biogeochemical cycles, and for understanding how microorganisms in these “extreme” environments survive (or even thrive). Here, we synthesize recent advances and discoveries pertaining to microbial activity in the marine deep subsurface, and we highlight topics about which there is still little understanding and suggest potential paths forward to address them. This publication is the result of a workshop held in August 2012 by the NSF-funded Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) “theme team” on microbial activity (www.darkenergybiosphere.org).
AbstractA remarkable number of microbial cells have been enumerated within subseafloor sediments, suggesting a biological impact on geochemical processes in the subseafloor habitat. However, the metabolically active fraction of these populations is largely uncharacterized. In this study, an RNA-based molecular approach was used to determine the diversity and community structure of metabolically active bacterial populations in the upper sedimentary formation of the Nankai Trough seismogenic zone. Samples used in this study were collected from the slope apron sediment overlying the accretionary prism at Site C0004 during the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 316. The sediments represented microbial habitats above, within, and below the sulfate–methane transition zone (SMTZ), which was observed approximately 20 m below the seafloor (mbsf). Small subunit ribosomal RNA were extracted, quantified, amplified, and sequenced using high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing, indicating the occurrence of metabolically active bacterial populations to a depth of 57 mbsf. Transcript abundance and bacterial diversity decreased with increasing depth. The two communities below the SMTZ were similar at the phylum level, however only a 24% overlap was observed at the genus level. Active bacterial community composition was not confined to geochemically predicted redox stratification despite the deepest sample being more than 50 m below the oxic/anoxic interface. Genus-level classification suggested that the metabolically active subseafloor bacterial populations had similarities to previously cultured organisms. This allowed predictions of physiological potential, expanding understanding of the subseafloor microbial ecosystem. Unique community structures suggest very diverse active populations compared to previous DNA-based diversity estimates, providing more support for enhancing community characterizations using more advanced sequencing techniques.
AbstractThe objective of this study was to determine shifts in the microbial community structure and potential function based on standard Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) storage procedures for sediment cores. Standard long-term storage protocols maintain sediment temperature at 4°C for mineralogy, geochemical, and/or geotechnical analysis whereas standard microbiological sampling immediately preserves sediments at −80°C. Storage at 4°C does not take into account populations may remain active over geologic time scales at temperatures similar to storage conditions. Identification of active populations within the stored core would suggest geochemical and geophysical conditions within the core change over time. To test this potential, the metabolically active fraction of the total microbial community was characterized from IODP Expedition 325 Great Barrier Reef sediment cores prior to and following a 3-month storage period. Total RNA was extracted from complementary 2, 20, and 40 m below sea floor sediment samples, reverse transcribed to complementary DNA and then sequenced using 454 FLX sequencing technology, yielding over 14,800 sequences from the six samples. Interestingly, 97.3% of the sequences detected were associated with lineages that changed in detection frequency during the storage period including key biogeochemically relevant lineages associated with nitrogen, iron, and sulfur cycling. These lineages have the potential to permanently alter the physical and chemical characteristics of the sediment promoting misleading conclusions about the in situ biogeochemical environment. In addition, the detection of new lineages after storage increases the potential for a wider range of viable lineages within the subsurface that may be underestimated during standard community characterizations.
I was honored to receive a DEBI RCN Graduate Student Education Exchange grant for research at the IODP Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research in Kochi, Japan. During the month of July 2010, I worked with Dr. Fumio Inagaki and other members of his lab group to learn his techniques of cell enumeration and flow cytometry. The experience of working in his lab allowed me to go beyond the typical collaboration based on brief meetings and email exchanges alone. I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and have a research experience in an unfamiliar culture. I learned much more than research techniques including overcoming communication barriers, building collaborations, and cultural exchanges. I discovered that the basic standards of science are global and although communication was difficult with a few lab members, the language of science transcended that and we continued to learn from each other regardless. The methods I have learned in Japan have given me the ability to expand on my skill set and apply it to various environments. Since working with Dr. Inagaki, the techniques I have learned have allowed me to work on samples collected from research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico and IODP Leg 325 in the Great Barrier Reef. Dr. Inagaki encouraged me to ship and work on my own samples in order to return to my home institution with data that I am able to directly incorporate into my dissertation. We have since discussed other collaboration opportunities and I look forward to what the Research Coordination Network can provide in the future.